BASILAN – an island province surrounded by four bodies of water and is under the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Sensationalised by the media that this province is home to insurgents and of everyday hostilities, armed conflicts and social unrest – those are initial thoughts of the majority of Filipinos. Say you are going there – response would be, “is it safe there?” or “Don’t you dare set foot there or you might get abducted by armed militants”. Should those statements push you back in exploring this place? I would say, No.
Having set foot in this quiet island province proves all of the aforementioned statements somehow the other way around. As you arrive in the port of Isabela City, Basilan’s capital, through a fast craft, you would easily notice a bustling community working their way in a usual typical and peaceful manner.
As we departed on a 06:45AM Fastcraft bound to Isabela, a bit of worry ran inside me, but recalling my acquaintance’s current experience with the island, I slumbered away the worries and filled myself with nothing but excitement. As our vessel roared through the calm sea and the sky still on overcast state, the Great Sta. Cruz Island boasts its beauty appeared in full view, this is something I would definitely miss to explore because of our tight itinerary. A clear sign that I would be back in Zamboanga City. As we passed by the islands, I continued pointing my unclear vision to the looming island of Basilan and imagining what to expect upon arrival, until the cool morning wind dried my eyes and led me to the virtual world of dreamland.
Not counting minutes that passed, Teacher Jonna woke me up. We are about to dock in Isabela City. As I peeled my eyes, my vision suddenly lay on a thick, lush vegetation at the edge of the city which is clearly a mangrove forest. Slowly, roofs interchange with canopy and our view turned into a community, and from afar I can see the port of Isabela. I instantly snatched out my camera took shots of my first photo with Basilan. This is it! Basilan, here I come.
Upon arrival at the port, we took snapshots of ourselves in front of the humongous welcome sign, a clear indication that we are really in Basilan.
As we stepped out the port, we asked courteously to the policemen where we can find the city tourism office and gave concise instructions – take a tricycle and say you are bound to the city hall. We did follow his instructions. In less than 10 minutes, we alighted in front of the City Hall. Time check: 07:40AM, we arrived a bit early and found the doors of the tourism office still closed. As we are waiting for the official government offices to open, we spotted an eatery and had our breakfast there. It is the same eatery where we celebrated the birthday of Engr. Mike, our host in Zamboanga City. What a unique way to celebrate your birthday in an off beaten path spot. It was past 8:00 AM when we finished our breakfast and proceeded to the tourism office. We registered ourselves and set another trip back to the port in Isabela City.
The driver alighted us right beside a port where smaller passenger boats transfer passengers to Malamaui Island. For only Php5.00 fare, the ferry ride would cost you even less than 10 minutes to arrive. We arrived in a modest port passenger waiting area and there are motorcycles dedicated for public transport waiting there. The fare to Malamaui beach is Php25.00 per head. By pairs, we hopped on the motorcycles and few moments later found ourselves traversing a muslim dominated community. Let me tell you this, despite the reputation Muslims earned because of the sensationalised news, setting foot and traversing the island proves the other way around.
For only Php5.00 fare, the ferry ride would cost you even less than 10 minutes to arrive. We arrived in a modest port passenger waiting area and there are motorcycles dedicated to public transport waiting there. The fare to Malamaui beach is Php25.00 per head. By pairs, we hopped on the motorcycles and a few moments later found ourselves traversing a Muslim dominated community. Let me tell you this, despite the reputation Muslims earned because of the sensationalized news, setting foot and traversing the island proves the other way around.
Then we go deep on the island, the community transformed into a forest where we are cloaked with cool air, and as we crisscrossed through the muddy road, we found sporadic houses along. Some children waved at us and we said Hi in return. With the Malamawi White Beach starting to gain tourists, these kids apparently are now used to tourists.
And through alternating trunks of towering coconut trees, I can see a familiar scenery that is of deep blue color – the sea! This is it! I asked our driver if we are near and said yes. As I faced to our driving direction, the path led us to a resort entrance with colorful flags. That surely is the spot.
Our driver alighted us at the registration area and we arranged to return after three hours. After we paid, we hurried to the hut assigned to us and I ran to change for swimming attire. Then I dropped my bag and snatched my camera with my waterproof bag, and hopped to the fine white sand beach.
Paradise, it really is. I kept asking myself, am I really in Basilan? After taking snapshots of the beach area, I immediately swam in its clear waters and enjoyed the changing tides.
Since we are leaving the island the same day, we prepared ourselves by 11:00 AM and momentarily meeting our drivers at the resort entrance.
After our brief experience with the lovely beach, we have bought our return tickets back to Zamboanga City reserved via Weesam, and to our horror, the last trip was canceled. Good thing, the RORO schedule is still open. We queued up and booked for a class A tickets to enjoy our almost two-hour ferry ride back to Asia’s Latin City.
|WEESAM Fast Craft Schedule|
|Effective: May 17, 2016|
|6:00 AM||7:00 AM|
|6:45 AM||8:15 AM|
|9:30 AM||10:45 AM|
|12:45 PM||2:00 PM|
|3:30 PM||2:45 PM|
|MALAMAWI WHITE BEACH Travel Expense|
|Zamboanga City to Isabela Ferry||PHP 150.00|
|Chartered Boat to Malamawi Island (Php 100/div 4)||PHP 25.00|
|Roundtrip Motorcycle||PHP 50.00|
|Resort Entrance and Cottage Rental (per pax)||PHP 60.00|
|Public Boat back to Isabela City||PHP 5.00|
|RORO Ticket First Class to Zamboanga City||PHP 90.00|
Thank you to my friend Chang Chang for pushing me to visit Basilan. My greatest gratitude.
Another blog story:
Please refer to below link for Denzo’s account with Malamawi